Thursday, May 18, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The annual Women in Sugar Australia (WISA) conference was another success, being held at the Bargara Cultural Centre, east of Bundaberg.
Seven members of Canegrowers Network Mackay District attended the conference, which has the theme ‘Women of Worth’.
The conference consisted for talks delivered by key individuals in and associated within the sugar industry.
The conference was officially opened by Stephen Bennett MP, member for Burnett, who shared challenges within the community, particularly with attracting young people to communities.
Mark Pressler, Chairperson of Bundaberg Canegrowers, shared issues with Bundaberg’s sugar industry, not dissimilar to Mackay’s own late cut cane.
The special guest speaker for the event was Georgie Somerset AM, president of Agforce Queensland, who spoke of her youth, of being 18-years old and not knowing what she wanted to do professionally. She shared that she believes that women have an invaluable place in the sugar industry and encouraged women to ‘Find Your Voice’.
She encourages the belief that changes happens, and to connect community despite geographical isolation, and invest in individuals and continued education.
For the Conference Dinner, the guest speaker was Angela Williams, membership and engagement practitioner of Canegrowers Isis and contributor to ‘Walking the Wire’ a publication to strength the financial stability of rural agribusiness women.
Angela spoke on holding critical conversations, unintended consequences, how more than two in a marriage is crowded, and the importance of succession planning.
The second day of the conference consisted of a trip to Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, One Little Farm Market, and Bundaberg Rum Distillery with a self-guided tour and tastings.
Other special guests for the conference included Lisa Deveraux and Cathy Mylrea from Sugar Research Australia (SRA), who spoke on gender and diversity, Glen Harris from Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), who shared the market prices of sugar, global influences and organisations that buy and sell sugar.
RaboBank also presented on horticulture, sugar, and wine, as well as by products, including aviation fuel and tights global supply.
Mary Wallace of Canegrowers Network Mackay said, “The conference is an excellent opportunity for the ladies to share their experience with other likeminded women, on current issues and diversity within the industry.”
Marice Perna, another Mackay attendee, said, “I enjoyed catching up with WIS members from other districts.
“The bus trip with the ladies from here is always a highlight.
“I enjoyed the conference speakers from diverse sections of the industry."
The Mackay branch of the Canegrowers Network
The conference saw an excursion to Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, with a tour and tasting. Photos supplied